Vaccine Rollout Information

Any person who is 12 years and older may register and receive the vaccine.

Vaccine Rollout

Discovery Vaccine Rollout

As part of the national vaccination programme, the National Department of Health’s Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) is imminently expected to open to the public. This note guides you as a Discovery client or member of a medical scheme administered by Discovery Health on steps to take in registering on the necessary portals for your vaccination journey.

Everyone in South Africa who wishes to receive the COVID-19 vaccination must register on the National Department of Health’s EVDS. This registration process will be communicated and managed by the National Department of Health. You will have access to additional functionality and tailored support through the Discovery COVID-19 Vaccination Portal.

Registration on the EVDS is required by all South African citizens and will provide you with a vaccination code that you will present on the day of your scheduled vaccination.

Registration on the Discovery COVID-19 Vaccination Portal will give you access to a tailored journey provided by Discovery to guide and support you in receiving your COVID-19 vaccination.

At Discovery, we are making an unprecedented financial and human capital investment in our own Mass Vaccination Programme. The aim is to vaccinate three million adult beneficiaries of Discovery-administered schemes quickly and efficiently, with the capacity to vaccinate 50 000 people per day, pending vaccine supply. This will enable all of Discovery’s 550 000 high-risk members to be vaccinated within a few weeks. 

It is important that you understand the detail and context, so you know what we are doing and what to expect. We are acutely aware of our responsibility in ensuring the rollout is successful for our members of administered schemes – and all South Africans. 

The complexity countries like ours face is pronounced: as you know, there is a global shortage of vaccine supply, in the face of unprecedented demand. Pharmaceutical manufacturers globally are still not allowing private players to procure vaccines directly; and if they did, these vaccines would still need to be registered centrally via national regulatory structures. The bottom line is that in this supply-constrained environment, vaccine procurement must be led by the State, with strong collaboration from the private sector.

We have undertaken a considerable amount of actuarial and epidemiological modelling, and the implications are clear: in an ideal scenario, we should aim to vaccinate all high-risk groups by the end of June, including people over the age of 60 years and people living with multiple co-morbidities.

The Cabinet plan aims to achieve this, including essential workers, by latest October 2021. We will push hard as a combined public and private sector distribution initiative to achieve this sooner; and given the skewness in allocation of doses towards the third and fourth quarter of the year, those at highest risk will be prioritised for vaccination by July. This would mean reaching the targeted population herd immunity threshold of 29 million adults vaccinated in South Africa before the end of the year. This would help realise meaningful health and economic outcomes, and avoid many preventable COVID-related deaths.

Achieving these objectives requires procuring sufficient vaccines as a country to vaccinate more than the targeted 29 million adults in total (number of adults required to reach herd immunity threshold), aspiring to reach more than 37 million adults, broken down as per below:

  • 1.5 million healthcare workers by the end of April
  • 14 million adults from May to September – the elderly and those with co-morbidities, plus various groups of essential workers identified as central to sustaining the economy
  • 22 million during October to February 2022 – the balance of the adult population

In order to achieve the desired outcomes, South Africa must vaccinate 250 000 to 300 000 people per day. We are working with Business for South Africa and the Department of Health to ensure that capacity is in place, with the private sector to be included in the vaccination rollout from May, as confirmed in the Cabinet plan. We are confident that this target is feasible and achievable.

Assuming adequate supply of vaccines, can we vaccinate our members of administered medical schemes at the rate required as part of the national rollout?

Discovery has taken the steps to be ready to vaccinate medical scheme members in high volumes when the supply of vaccines becomes available from the Department of Health. We have segmented and stratified all members of administered schemes, identifying those at highest risk, who will be prioritised. Our segmentation approach is aligned to the national prioritisation framework, as guided by the Ministerial Advisory Committee. Simply, this means that we know exactly who should receive the vaccine first, and we will communicate quickly with our scheme members to confirm their place in the rollout, contingent on vaccine supply.

Following detailed research of best-practice mass-vaccination models around the world, we have made a significant investment in our own Mass Vaccination Programme. We are deploying in excess of 500 people and spending significant capital to achieve this, including on the establishment of more than 20 large-scale vaccination centres. We plan to vaccinate three million adult beneficiaries of Discovery-administered schemes. All 550 000 individuals identified as high-risk members will be vaccinated within a few weeks of commencing the Mass Vaccination Programme, subject to vaccine supply. We will inform you if you fall within this category, so you do not need to do anything now until you receive communication from us. If supply allows our programme will have capacity to efficiently achieve 40 000 to 50 000 vaccinations per day.

We are also developing a dedicated digital portal to assist with the vaccination programme end-to-end, ensuring a seamless member experience. It will work alongside and in support of the Department of Health’s National Electronic Vaccine Distribution System (EVDS) and allow for booking, appointment management, identification on arrival, tracking and reminders for second doses, and follow-up. We will track any adverse effects, which are likely to be few and far between, and support members through the process.

Despite the complexity and frustrating delays, the progress is good. It appears that the country has secured 31 million doses of vaccines in total, which is sufficient to vaccinate approximately 21 million people (some vaccines require double doses). This comprises 11 million doses of the J&J vaccine and 20 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which are both highly effective and suitable. In addition, there are a further possible 20 million doses of the J&J vaccine that are being negotiated. This would be sufficient to cover more than the 37 million adults in South Africa, exceeding the population herd immunity target of 29 million people.

However, the central issue is the fact that the bulk of the vaccines will only arrive in the country from June onward, given the global shortage of vaccines for the second quarter of the year. This hampers the ideal of vaccinating those at high risk by the end of June.

The delivery schedules are not yet finalised, but we are supporting Government where we can by engaging with global manufacturers to free up stock that can be fast-tracked for the second quarter of the year. We are hopeful that more can be done.

If we can secure more vaccines in the second quarter of the year, then getting through the high-risk groups by the end of June could be a reality. I will update you on the vaccine availability as soon as there are developments. Closer to the go-live date, we will let you know how to register for a vaccine on our portal, when you become eligible for a vaccine. This will guide you step-by-step through the process. You do not have to do anything now.

While the above Mass Vaccination Programme is a massive operational undertaking, and not without execution risk, I hope it assures you that we are doing whatever we can to support an accelerated national rollout, and that we are investing heavily to protect our members once supply from the Department of Health becomes available.

Vaccine Rollout

Momentum Vaccine Rollout 

As the private sector is currently prohibited from purchasing the vaccine directly from manufacturers, and is required to purchase it from Government, our aim has been to contribute to a solution which will make the greatest impact in achieving population immunity in the best interest of our Members, South Africa’s people, and our overall economy.

We would like to share our progress on enabling the vaccination of Momentum Medical Scheme Members against COVID-19 as quickly and efficiently as possible. Given that COVID-19 is a global pandemic, all governments are required to co-ordinate and manage the response to the disease in the best way they can. As is the case in other countries, the South African Government has decided that it will source, distribute and oversee the rollout of the vaccination programme, and will therefore be the sole purchaser and distributor of the COVID-19 vaccines to provincial governments and the private sector, including medical scheme members.

Therefore, Momentum Medical Scheme, together with our Administrator, Momentum Health Solutions, has been working closely with Government, industry bodies, business and labour sectors to influence a successful vaccine rollout strategy.

 Stocks of the vaccine will be coming into the country in batches over the next few months, hence the need for a phased approach to the vaccine rollout. In order to ensure that people most at risk are vaccinated first, vaccines will be administered in phases, in line with Government’s rollout plan, ie:

  • Phase 1 – healthcare workers
  •  Phase 2 – people over 60 years and high-risk individuals
  • Phase 3 – the rest of the population over 18 years

This rollout plan is dependent on the supply of the vaccine, the more vaccines that become available the faster the rollout can progress.

In partnership with Momentum Health Solutions, we are gearing up to be able to deliver the vaccines in the most efficient way possible. To assist our Members around the country to obtain vaccines in their allocated phase, the following has been established:

  • We have procured the sites for our 5 large vaccination centres in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) and Durban. These centres will provide most of the capacity for the vaccination of our Members and the communities in which they are located.
  • Our existing 18 health walk-in centres across the country will be adapted to facilitate the administration of vaccines.
  • We will also utilise 8 occupational health clinics and 5 mobile clinics to further supplement our capacity. These clinics already have all the medical requirements in place.

Therefore, we will initially have 36 vaccination centres across the country which will be used for administering the vaccine. We have already contracted with some of the additional nursing capacity required to staff these centres and 80% of these nurses have now undergone the required training. This capacity should allow us to vaccinate between 40 000 and 55 000 people daily, depending on availability of vaccines.

The Government’s Electronic Vaccine Data System (EVDS) self-registration portal is now open to healthcare workers and people 60 years and older and will move down the age groups as quickly as possible. We are proud to be a part of this journey with you and are ready to pay for your vaccine.

We will continue to engage Government to progress its existing strategy as effectively as possible, and aid in accelerating the process. We will also continue to prepare for any potential changes in the Government’s procurement strategy, with the wellbeing of our Members remaining of the utmost importance.

Medical schemes have an important role to play in supporting government’s vaccination rollout plan and ensuring that all members of society have an opportunity to receive the vaccine. The Council for Medical Schemes has indicated that the COVID-19 vaccine will be managed as a Prescribed Minimum Benefit, which means that the vaccine will be covered from scheme benefits. With the vaccine being made available to people over the age of 18 only, we estimate that approximately 70% of our schemes’ membership will be eligible for vaccination.

The exact timelines for the rollout of the vaccination programme has not yet been confirmed, and depends on the approval and procurement processes. The Minister of Health has, however, provided assurance that all relevant stakeholders have been engaged to ensure efficient and effective rollout of the vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccine procurement and rollout plan is driven by government, in consultation with key stakeholders. There is no opportunity at this point for the private sector to initiate procurement processes independent of the government’s nationally focused process.

Vaccine Rollout

Bonitas Vaccine Rollout

The last two months has seen a range of questions and concerns regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. We, therefore, wish to assure you that we are collaborating with various stakeholders to ensure that you and your beneficiaries will be covered as the vaccine rollout progresses.

We are able to administer up to 150 000 vaccines per day

This is in collaboration with our partner Afrocentric Health and is in line with the Government’s rollout plan. The vaccines will be covered for all members as a Prescribed Minimum Benefit on all options.

We will take all steps to procure the vaccine privately as soon as this is permitted.

At present all medical schemes need to procure the COVID-19 vaccine through the Government and private procurement is not allowed at this stage. We will take all measures necessary to procure the vaccine for our members once this is possible.

Phase 1 was aimed at vaccinating healthcare workers. We are proud to advise that over 10 000 Bonitas members have been vaccinated in this phase.

Phase 2 of the rollout has been adjusted to prioritise vaccinations for members over the age of 60 years. This phase will run from May until July 2021. Members between the age of 40 and 60 years will be prioritised thereafter, with rollout set to take place from August to November 2021. Phase 3 will be for those younger than 40 years.

We are engaged and collaborating with key industry stakeholders, including the National Department of Health (NDoH), Business for SA and the Board of Healthcare Funders, to assist and collaborate with the rollout for Phase 2. We are also in the process of requesting accreditation to set up private vaccination centres across the country for ease of access for our members.

We will take every step necessary to help protect you and your beneficiaries particularly and will keep you updated as things develop. In the interim, please continue to practice social distancing, wash your hands regularly and continue to wear a face mask. Together, we can beat the COVID-19 pandemic.